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Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Drug withdrawal symptoms arise when an individual who has become reliant on drugs immediately stops consuming drugs. Enquire Now
Further Information
Drug Withdrawal Symptoms
Updated on 17/09/2021
Medically reviewed by
Dr Alexander Lapa (Psychiatrist)

Ranging from mild to excruciating, drug withdrawal symptoms, among other drug-related illnesses, have seen many people in need of immediate medical treatment soar.

Approximately 18,053 hospital admissions are made due to drug poisoning, misuse and withdrawal symptoms.

Although withdrawing from drugs alone is not recommended, many individuals do so in a bid to keep their drug use, abuse and addiction a secret.

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What Is Withdrawal?

Defined as the process in which an individual quits or stops using drugs [1], withdrawals are typically only experienced when a drug addiction arises.

Although withdrawals alleviate within several weeks, the effects of withdrawals can be long-term, especially when drug addiction treatment is overlooked.

Though, as touched on above, many individuals choose to progress through the withdrawal process alone, doing so ultimately increases the risk of relapse.

Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

While drug withdrawal symptoms are contingent on the drug consumed, physical and psychological, withdrawal symptoms are typically encountered shortly after an individual stops consuming drugs.

Physical drug withdrawal symptoms commonly experienced include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Sweating
  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Nausea and sickness
  • Persistent headaches
  • Aches and pains
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tremors
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure

Though these particular withdrawal symptoms reduce gradually without medical intervention, many withdrawal symptoms require immediate medical treatment.  These include heart attack, stroke, seizures and delirium tremens.

A severe form of withdrawal [2], delirium tremens, can be fatal and are experienced by approximately 30% of people who withdraw from drugs alone. [3]

In addition to physical symptoms, withdrawing from drugs gives way to several psychological symptoms.

Psychological drug withdrawal symptoms often encountered include:What are the main alcohol withdrawal symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Cravings
  • Reduced cognitive function

Unfortunately, psychological withdrawal symptoms impair an individual’s mental state and are associated with an increased number of suicide attempts.

The Stages Of Drug Addiction Withdrawal

Xanax Addiction Treatment & RehabIrrespective of whether drug withdrawal symptoms are mild or severe, the stages of drug addiction withdrawal greatly vary. 

Although many drug withdrawal symptoms start [4] 6 to 24 hours after drugs were last consumed [5], the intensity of addiction and the drug consumed will often dictate the stages of withdrawal.

Treatment For Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Due to the severity of frequently experienced drug withdrawal symptoms, withdrawing from drugs independently without medical assistance is not recommended, nor is it safe.   In contrast, withdrawing from drugs in a rehab facility is safe and successfully initiates the recovery process.

To treat drug withdrawal symptoms and addictions, medically induced detoxifications, one-to-one psychological therapy and medication are typically encountered.  However, as no one addiction is the same, treatments are customised to the needs of each individual.

It is initiated to reduce the severity of the physical and psychological effects that come hand-in-hand with drug use, medically induced detoxifications are overseen by doctors and nurses. 

Though medically induced detoxifications are entirely safe, drug withdrawal symptoms are often experienced.  To reduce the symptoms experienced and make the withdrawal process much more comfortable, medications can be prescribed.

Throughout the detoxification process, one-to-one psychological therapy is also encountered.  This particular treatment ensures that those progressing through detoxification treatment have an outlet to share how they feel and seek help from recovery support workers as and when it is needed.

Additional Drug Addiction Treatment

Although medically induced detoxifications successfully eliminate drugs from the body and brain and ensure that physical recovery can be achieved, detoxification alone does not guarantee that long-term recovery can be maintained. 

To ensure that recovery can be maintained, various other treatments are administered.  These treatments include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Well-being therapy, such as yoga and meditation
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Relapse prevention
  • Aftercare support 

The treatments outlined above are typically provided to individuals that attend an inpatient rehab for drug withdrawal treatment.  Customised to the needs of each individual, it is not uncommon for drug addiction treatments to be combined and incorporated into a personalised treatment programme.

Contact Us Today For Treatment

Whether you have developed a cannabis addiction, cocaine addiction, or heroin addiction, you must secure treatment as soon as possible if you are currently experiencing any of the drug withdrawal symptoms noted above.

To secure treatment, contact us today by calling 0800 012 6088.  In doing so, we can recommend a suitable course of action and refer you to inpatient rehab for withdrawal and addiction treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Risks Of Detoxing At Home?
Attempting to withdraw and detox from drugs at home comes hand-in-hand with several risks. Not only can withdrawing and detoxing at home put you at greater risk of relapsing, but it can cause you to experience significant withdrawal symptoms that can impact not only yourself but those around you.
What Effect Does Withdrawal Have On Mental Health?
Withdrawing from drugs can escalate the intensity of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Upon attempting to withdraw independently, a large proportion of individuals will experience hallucinations, paranoia and, in some instances, suicidal thoughts.

Although many pre-existing mental health disorders are ignited by the withdrawal process, withdrawing from drugs can also give way to mental health disorders.
What Are Delirium Tremens?
Delirium tremens are severe withdrawal symptoms that impact those who have become addicted to drugs and alcohol and have attempted to withdraw without professional help. Also known as DTs, these particular withdrawal symptoms require immediate hospitalisation and have a mortality rate of 1% to 15%.

References

  • [1] process in which an individual quits or stops using drugs - https://adf.org.au/reducing-risk/withdrawal/
  • [2] severe form of withdrawal - https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm
  • [3] approximately 30% of people who withdraw from drugs alone. - https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/delirium-tremens
  • [4] drug withdrawal symptoms start - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64116/
  • [5] after drugs were last consumed - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64116/
  • [6] start 8 hours after drugs were last consumed and last for up to 10 days - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/
  • [7] cocaine withdrawal symptoms will occur rapidly - https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7-cws
  • [8] can be experienced for up to - https://oxfordtreatment.com/substance-abuse/cocaine/withdrawal/
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Seth is an author, addiction recovery expert and fully accredited member of the national counselling society. He has experience working with a wide range of addictions and mental illnesses using a number of evidence-based therapies and programmes such as the SMART models of addiction recovery.

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